From that point on, it seemed like the cushion started to go away and Darland slid back, but when the final flag fell on the event he had closed to within 38 points of the top spot in the chase for the national title after trailing by 99 heading into the event.
Although it was destined to happen with all the big money at stake and the teams being in such close contact for three straight days, Saturday night saw many of the teams and drivers reach their respective breaking points.
First there was Jon Stanbrough going after Levi Jones following a frightening incident that also collected Robert Ballou and sent Ballou to the hospital after his car was completely destroyed, including a motor that had just two races on it.
Then, long after the checkered flag had fallen on Saturday night and podium pictures were being taken of the top three, Hines and members of his team charged into Victory Lane and exchanged words with Clauson’s team with accusations being tossed around. The exchange became so volatile that Jim O’Connor Jr., son of track owner Jim O’Connor, summoned the police to make sure things didn’t get anymore out of hand.
By far the incident in the closing laps that sent Stanbrough head first into the turn one pit entrance wall, then back onto the track directly in front of Ballou. The contact busted the cage on Ballou’s car, knocking the Rocklin, Calif., driver unconscious which resulted in his being transported to a hospital. Although he was released, it was announced that he was going back on Sunday afternoon after experiencing extreme pain in his back.
From my vantage point in the infield, it appeared that Levi Jones, who trailed Stanbrough by just two points in the national title picture heading into Saturday’s program, got into Stanbrough’s left rear and shoved him up the track. Stanbrough, usually as cool as the other side of the pillow, felt the same way as he climbed from his battered car, walked toward the pits, changed directions, then ran full speed towards Jones, who was parked on the front stretch in his car.